In a previous post, I discussed our B2B buying cycle framework and the roles within it; in this post, I’ll cover how these buying cycle phases should influence your B2B social media efforts. Given the importance of buying cycles, better alignment of key social media activities with these cycles will result in more targeted, measurable results. Let’s look at it via the three macros buying cycle phases.

Education. Most organizations don’t have a lack of content; rather too much content is locked into specific pieces of collateral and never reused. Go through a whitepaper and highlight content that can be leveraged as tweets or posts within your Facebook and LinkedIn groups to drive more awareness about who you are and what you do. Also, the work that goes into securing quotes and data points for press releases and testimonials can be used to reinforce the connection between a specific offering and core business issues within a vertical (or sub-vertical) market.

Active Buying. The active buying stage finds buyers looking for solutions to problems they have decided are a priority, matching solution types to their specific needs and uncovering vendors that offer their solution of choice. Your social efforts should drive focused awareness and engagement not around your brand, but around specific decisions made by current customers that drove them to choose the solution you offer and, subsequently, your organization in particular. In addition to leveraging subject matter expertise for posts, content that was created to make key influencers aware of emerging issues can be recast to drive home the importance of problem solving at the beginning of buying cycles.

Closing. The closing phase includes activities such as negotiations and terms/conditions creation required to seal a deal. While there may be less social media potential here because prospects have much of the information they need, late-stage buyers often turn to their online social networks for validation, and the social reputation (or lack of) you’ve built through engagement will have a huge impact. Tracking and addressing any issues that a prospect may have about your organization could help tip a decision in your favor. Facilitating connections to stakeholders and influencers within your online network will help as well.